‘Monster bug’ attaches itself to submarine

By | April 1, 2010

Monster bug attaches itself to submarine

A bizarre-looking giant crustacean has been found after it latched onto a submarine deep underwater and was dragged to the surface, according to reports.

Images of the 75cm creature — which has been identified as an exceptionally large isopod — have caused a stir online after they were posted on the social media website Reddit.

A user of the website claimed to have received the images from a contractor who worked with him at a sub-sea survey company.

“Recently this beast came up attached to one of our ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicle) … it latched onto the ROV at roughly 8,500 feet (2600m) depth.

“The ship he was operating from (and therefore location) is unknown, so I can’t tell you what part of the Earth this beast was living.”

The user’s vague description of the origin of the photo has sparked concerns it may be just an April Fools’ Day joke, but experts claim it appears to be legitimate.

“I’ve seen the pictures, and they are real, and they really do get that big,” Craig McClain, assistant director of science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina, told MSNBC.

“It’s an isopod … It’s like the [woodlice] that you find in your garden. It’s the same group of animals.”

McClaim said he had also recently received the same images from a researcher who had been working in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It’s definitely not an April Fools’ joke,” he said.

The isopod, which usually only grows to 60cm in length, is a scavenger that feeds on dead whales, fish and squid and lives in deep ocean waters.

The species was discovered over 100 years ago by French zoologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards.

via ‘Monster bug’ attaches itself to submarine.

More on the giant isopod here.

A giant isopod may be one of approximately nine species of large isopods (crustaceans related to the shrimp and crabs) in the genus Bathynomus. They are thought to be abundant in cold, deep waters of the Atlantic. Bathynomus giganteus, the species upon which the generitype is based, is the largest known isopod and is the one most often referred to by the common name “giant isopod”.

French zoologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards was the first to describe the genus in 1879 after fishing a juvenile male B. giganteus from the Gulf of Mexico; this was an exciting discovery for both scientists and the public, as at the time the idea of a lifeless or “azoic” deep ocean had only recently been refuted by the work of Sir Charles Wyville Thomson and others. Females were not recovered until 1891.

Giant isopods are of little interest to most commercial fisheries owing to the typical paucity of catches and because ensnared isopods are usually scavenged beyond marketability before they are recovered. However, in Northern Taiwan and other areas, they are not uncommon at seaside restaurants, served boiled and bisected with a clean lateral slice. The white meat, similar to crab or lobster in texture, is then easily removed. The few specimens caught in the Americas with baited traps are sometimes seen in public aquaria.

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